Russell Gray's Research Lab

Gray Lab Publications:

From words to dates: Water into wine, mathemagic or phylogenetic inference?

Atkinson, Q., Nicholls, G., Welch, D., Gray, R.D. (2005) FROM WORDS TO DATES: WATER INTO WINE, MATHEMAGIC OR PHYLOGENETIC INFERENCE? Transactions of the Philological Society Volume 103:2 (2005) 193–219

Keywords: indo-european, russell gray, quentin atkinson, language evolution, phylogenetics,


Gray & Atkinson’s (2003) application of quantitative phylo- genetic methods to Dyen, Kruskal & Black’s (1992) Indo- European database produced controversial divergence time estimates. Here we test the robustness of these results using an alternative data set of ancient Indo-European languages. We employ two very different stochastic models of lexical evolution – Gray & Atkinson’s (2003) finite-sites model and a stochastic-Dollo model of word evolution introduced by Nicholls & Gray (in press). Results of this analysis support the findings of Gray & Atkinson (2003). We also tested the ability of both methods to reconstruct phylogeny and divergence times accurately from synthetic data. The methods performed well under a range of scenarios, including widespread and localized borrowing.

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